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How To Be A Successful Developer

12.08.2009
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I was recently asked for advice from a young student on how to become a successful software developer. This is a complicated question. I put some thought into it, and realized that every individual will become successful in different ways. Here are some things that helped me:

  • Always strive to improve yourself and learn more.
  • Share information freely with others — be generous.
  • Focus on developing good working relationships with your coworkers, both technical staff and others.
  • Effective communication, both written and spoken is crucial.
  • Get involved in open source.
  • Be precise.
  • Deliver on commitments, or if you need to renegotiate your commitments.
  • In everything that you do, do it with integrity.

Almost none of these have anything to do with knowledge of technology. I believe that social aspects have far more impact on success than anything else. Of course being knowledgeable helps too, however what's more important than knowing a specific technology is being able to pick up the knowledge that you need, when you need it.

A few things that I missed in my response because I take them for granted:

  • Have passion for what you do.
  • Strive for excellence.
  • Avoid being self-righteous.

I'm sure that there are many things that contribute to being successful. I'd love to hear from others: what do you think are key contributing factors to becoming a successful software developer?

From http://greensopinion.blogspot.com

Published at DZone with permission of its author, David Green.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

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Comments

Muammer Yucel replied on Tue, 2009/12/08 - 3:18am

In opposite to conjecture, software development is a social activity between people, I think. It can be considered as a product of team work. Nobody knows everything, but God. One day, one teacher of mine said that: "After graduating from here you won't know everything, but you will know where to find out you need". So, to be a successful software developer, one should be in social relationship with information sources, such as internet and other people. 

Martijn Verburg replied on Tue, 2009/12/08 - 6:29am

Hi David, Couldn't agree more! I recently delivered a talk on this at the London JUG Unconference, gratuitous blog post. Feel free to borrow any of it if you're presenting these concepts to a wider audience. Cheers, Martijn

David Green replied on Tue, 2009/12/08 - 4:37pm in response to: Martijn Verburg

Thanks Martijn, I loved your article. Lots of great points.

Tony Siciliani replied on Wed, 2009/12/09 - 3:58am

The qualities listed in your article are mostly generic, i.e. they apply to many professions, regardless of the specific knowledge & skills required in each one of them.

 The one that isn't so ("get involved in OS") has not much to do with success.

I have trouble imagining a developer becoming successful if he/she's unable to write clear & maintainable code or fix bugs rapidly, test his/her code, etc.. or to solve any the problems specific to development, in addition to the qualities you're mentioning.

 

sunahouston replied on Wed, 2009/12/09 - 7:04pm

David liked your article-it's all good...Share! Communicate! and Deliver!  ...things I've focused on while working with Java User Groups over the years...these things are equally applicable elsewhere... Best Regards Aaron

Micheal Nayebare replied on Sat, 2011/10/15 - 9:47am

hi guys that was great i liked it.i think its very purposeful for all us.

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